Independent wine retailers saw turnover fall by 5% last year, according to figures compiled by The Wine Merchant.
Average sales per business slipped by more than £40,000 to £765,617, which equates to an average turnover per store of £558,852.
This year’s Wine Merchant reader survey shows that confidence levels among independents has taken a slight knock, and the proportion of respondents expecting to take on extra staff has fallen significantly. But overall confidence levels remain high and the percentage of merchants who are considering opening additional branches remains roughly the same as in 2015.
Margins are holding up well, except in the wholesale channel where average levels dipped slightly to just under 20%.
This year’s survey found that merchants’ reliance on shop sales for their turnover has fallen to 68.4%, the lowest figure since the survey was first carried out four years ago.
Online sales have seen a significant leap to almost 6% of average turnover, the highest ever recorded in the survey.
Once again Boutinot and Liberty lead the popularity stakes among their independent customers, though the survey also gave merchants the opportunity to vent their frustrations with suppliers generally.
There are concerns raised about the “archaic” high level of minimum drops, which some say is making direct shipping increasingly attractive.
Retailers also rail against a lack of channel management from some suppliers, and reps who fail to make an effort to work in partnership with their retail customers.
There is annoyance in some quarters at the way London dominates the tasting calendar. “We neither have the time or funds to attend,” says one Yorkshire-based merchant.